Archive for February, 2013

Maker’s Mark reverses decision to water down whiskey

After a boatload of backlash, Maker’s Mark has decided not to water down its bourbon to keep up with demand.

The company got plenty of angry feedback from its customers last week when it announced it planned to reduce the alcohol content of its bourbon in response to supply constraints.

“You spoke. We listened. We are reversing our decision to lower the ABV of Maker’s Mark, and resuming production at 45% alcohol by volume (90 proof). Just like we’ve made it since the very beginning,” the company announced in a statement Sunday.

The company said it was “humbled” by the overwhelming response and passion for Maker’s Mark. “While we thought we were doing what’s right, this is your brand – and you told us in large numbers to change our decision,” the company said.

Its decision to continue to make 90 proof whiskey is effective immediately.

Fans of the whiskey who complained, quickly applauded the move. The statement on Maker’s Mark’s Facebook page drew more than 22,000 …

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CCE chief: ‘Play by the rules and dream your dreams’

Business and technical experience — check.

International experience — check.

Merger and acquisition experience — check.

Leadership experience — check.

John Brock, CEO of Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Enterprises, has built up a full resumé since graduating from Georgia Tech more than 40 years ago. From P&G and Cadbury to Interbrew and CCE, Brock has been involved in many important business maneuvers, including Cadbury’s acquisition of Dr Pepper/Seven Up in 1995 and CCE’s sale of its North American operations to Coke two years ago.

John Brock

John Brock

Now, Brock, 64, is steering CCE, which bottles and distributes Coke products in eight Western European nations, through the economic crisis in those markets. He talks about his strategy, as well as what he’s learned at different points in his life.

Q: How did your early years shape who you are?

A: I grew up in small Mississippi town on the Gulf coast, Moss Point, and my biggest cheerleader was my mother. She inspired me and …

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Facebook: Breach allowed malware installation

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Facebook revealed Friday that it was the victim of a breach when malware was installed on laptops used by employees who visited a mobile developers’ infected website last month.

The social network, with more than 1 billion users, said it found no evidence that user data or its infrastructure was compromised by the malware, which is software designed to damage or disable computers or computer systems.

Facebook said it is regularly the target of such attacks and “the vast majority of the time” it is able to block the efforts, but not last month, the company said in a posting on its website:

The compromised website hosted an exploit which then allowed malware to be installed on these employee laptops. The laptops were fully-patched and running up-to-date anti-virus software. As soon as we discovered the presence of the malware, we remediated all infected machines, informed law enforcement, and began a significant investigation that continues …

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Zaxby’s adding Dr Pepper to beverage lineup



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Zaxby’s, the restaurant chain known for its chicken wings and fingers, is expanding its beverage line to include the flagship beverage from Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the companies announced Thursday.

Zaxby’s will sell Dr Pepper alongside Coca-Cola products at its more than 565 locations across 13 states.

“We are continuously evaluating our menu to ensure we are offering our guests new and exciting options,” Zaxby’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Zach McLeroy said in a statement. McLeroy and Tony Townley started the restaurant chain in Athens in 1990.

Dr Pepper also shares the fountain spotlight with either Atlanta-based Coca-Cola or its archrival Pepsi at other popular restaurants, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Atlanta-based Chick-fil-A.

A Dr Pepper Snapple spokesman declined to place a dollar value on the deal with Zaxby’s.

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Report: Time Warner in talks to sell People, other magazines

Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes (Associated Press)

Time Warner Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes (Associated Press)

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Time Warner Inc., the media and entertainment conglomerate, is in talks to sell its Time Inc. publishing unit, whose titles include People, Sports Illustrated, Essence and other well-known magazines, according to Fortune.

Talks with “a serious buyer” are in their initial stages, Fortune reported Wednesday.  It cautioned that a deal is not a sure bet.

Fortune, which is also under the Time Inc. umbrella of about 90 magazines globally, says its information comes from three people familiar with the discussions. A Time Warner spokesman said the company never comments on “speculations of this nature.”

Fortune says unloading Time Inc. would be Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Bewkes’ latest effort at “slimming down” Time Warner. The multibillion dollar corporation, which once owned the Atlanta Braves, Hawks and Thrashers, also owns Warner …

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Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln top J.D. Power dependability list

2010 Lexus ES 350 (Toyota Motor Sales USA)

2010 Lexus ES 350 (Toyota Motor Sales USA)

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If you drive a Lexus, Porsche, Lincoln or Toyota, you should be feeling a little at ease when it comes to experiencing problems with your vehicle, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Those are the top brands that gave new car buyers the fewest problems, based on a survey of 37,000 owners who made purchases in 2010.

The survey is important because 54 percent of owners who don’t experience problems are likely to return to the brand when it’s time to buy a new vehicle, researchers say. If they experience repeated problems, the “brand loyalty” percentage drops to 41 percent.

Rounding out the top 10 dependability list of brands that scored above the industry average are Mercedes-Benz, Buick, Honda, Acura, Ram and Suzuki. (Mazda and Chevrolet also scored above the average).

The good news is more than two-thirds of the brands improved their standing compared with previous years, …

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How accurate is your credit report?

A less-than-stellar credit report and score could stand in the way of a car purchase. (Associated Press)

A less-than-stellar credit report and score could stand in the way of a favorable interest rate for a car loan. (Associated Press)

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When was the last time you looked at your credit report? Was there a mistake that affected your credit score and stood in the way of your financing a major purchase or getting a favorable interest rate?

The Federal Trade Commission reports one in four consumers find an error on a credit report issued by one of the three major reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. The overall conclusion, however, is that reports are “highly accurate,” according to an Associated Press item on the FTC study.

That’s little consolation  if you’ve been the victim of, say, identity theft and your credit has been wrecked and it’s showing up on your report. Or if you’re finally caught up on debts now that you’re working again but your report still has vestiges of your former credit …

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CredAbility CEO: ‘Don’t think you have to do the same thing for your whole life’

Managing debt. That’s what much of Phil Baldwin’s career has been about — as an accountant, banker and current CEO of CredAbility, the Atlanta-based nonprofit that gave credit counseling advice to nearly 300,000 consumers across the country last year.

Phil Baldwin

Phil Baldwin

During his career, Baldwin, 54, has wrestled with the effects of rural poverty in Arkansas as head of a bank charged with improving access to capital for farmers, entrepreneurs and low-income consumers. Now, he’s trying to lead CredAbility — known for helping consumers chip away at their debt loads — in a new direction as the economy improves and the demand for credit counseling declines.

Baldwin wants CredAbility to start giving financial planning advice to the low- and moderate-income consumers generally neglected by traditional for-profit firms. He talks about that effort, as well as what he’s learned during his three decades in the financial world.

Q: Early in your career, you were entrusted with …

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Postal Service lost $14M a day in 1st quarter

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

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Maybe Saturday isn’t the only delivery day that needs to be considered by the U.S. Postal Service?

Days after the federal agency announced it was discontinuing Saturday deliveries to cut costs, its chief financial officer told the Postal Service Board of Governors that USPS lost $1.3 billion – about $14 million a day – in its first quarter. The good news is that the loss  October to December was much smaller than the $3.3 billion in red ink during the same period a year ago.

The most recent first quarter was helped by extra mailings due to the November elections and Christmas holiday season, Reuters reported. Competition from UPS, FedEx and other shippers, and consumers’ increasing reliance on email and other online options, have greatly loosened the grip the USPS once had on mail deliveries. The agency also struggles with high retiree healthcare costs.

Cutting back to five days a week will save the …

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Calpis America to build plant, create 42 jobs in Peachtree City

Calpis America, a maker of animal feed ingredients, plans to build a $20 million plant in a Peachtree City industrial park and hire 42 people, Gov. Nathan Deal announced Friday.

Peachtree City will also serve as the U.S. headquarters for the company which is part of Tokyo-based Calpis  Co. Ltd., a maker of dietary supplements and animal feed additives. The company has existing U.S.  facilities in Los Angeles and Illinois.

Operations are expected to begin in April 2014.

Deal said Georgia is ideal for the Calpis expansion because the sate is  the country’s top poultry producer

Calpis America president Masato Yoshida  said, “Locating this plant in Georgia will enable us to better serve the industry and to utilize the abundant workforce. Peachtree City provides us good access to our users as well as transportation convenience both domestically and internationally.”

Fayette County Development Authority Chair Randy Hayes said, “Our proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta …

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